Wayne Rooney shines as he makes MLS debut at a club in need of a boost
If the former England captain was thinking about what could have been at the World Cup, he didn't show it as he took to his new life in MLS with relish
For the first two weeks of his new life in America, Wayne Rooney lumbered sheepishly though his DC United press events, mumbling the usual banalities. But then came Saturday night, and his MLS debut, which was also United's first game in their new stadium. He stepped on the pitch in the 59th minute and suddenly it was obvious to everyone that he was anything but ordinary.
Rooney is nearing the end of his career and came to the United States straight off a vacation, yet he was the best player in DC's 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. He sprayed passes to his teammates with such precision and velocity that they sometimes seemed surprised to see the ball coming. He lunged past defenders to fire shots at goal. A flicked header forced the Vancouver goalkeeper, Brian Rowe, to make a desperate save.
And when the game was over, with Rooney having helped create two goals, the United players realized they had something they had never seen before.
'To be honest I've never played with players the caliber of Wayne,' said United midfielder Paul Arriola, who scored those two goals initiated by Rooney.
Forgive the DC players if they weren't sure exactly what they were getting. Rooney's transfer from Everton last month smacked of a PR stunt by a club desperate for a big name with which to unveil their gleaming $400m stadium with views of the Washington Monument and US Capitol. The history of worn-out overseas superstars desperate for one last payday is a long one in American sports and given that Everton appeared to not want him anymore, those in Washington had to wonder if they were getting an aloof, wobbling replica of a once-great Wayne Rooney.....
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